One Pie or Separate Crumbs?: John Delloro Unpacks UCSD's Compton Cookout for AsAms

March 10, 2010

If February has gone by and you haven’t heard of UCSD’s “Compton Crime,” as I like to call it, then it’s time. On February 18, UCSD’s students received Facebook invitations to a “Compton Cookout.”

In it, women were encouraged to come as "ghetto chicks" wearing "cheap clothes" and "gold teeth," to "start fights and drama." Men were asked to be "stuntin' up in ya White T (XXXL smallest size acceptable)." All this, the page claimed, was to celebrate Black History Month.

Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) sent out a press release expressing rage at…well, blatant racism. Me, I was struck by imagery.  The cliché is that a picture is worth a thousand words. So if one’s style is a picture of oneself, then bastardizing a group’s style (even if some would call the above style pure stereotype) is the metaphorical equivalent of slitting throats.

I don’t think that’s too easy. I think that’s the way it is.

People paying attention (artists) know that racism steals faces and resells them as jokes. The night before this news broke, I was at a reading. Oakland spoken word artist James Cagney read “Black to the Future,” a new poem in Hang Man, a collection with Myron Michael:

I have seen the future.
[Don’t Go!]

…[I saw] images of milk chocolate lynched _ _ _ _ _ _ _
wrapped in aluminum foil for Black History Month
and swinging from toy trees like wind chimes…

[I saw] winners of radio station KKKK’s
“Be a House Slave for a Day” context,
pouring antibacterial syrup
on manhole metal waffles and posing
with hoochie Aunt Jemima
in a low cut apron…

[I saw] Midwestern tourists wearing
I’m a _ _ _ _ _ _ With Attitude T-shirts
with crack baby key chains dangling from their belts
while standing in long lines
to be in the live drugs busts performed hourly
or in the unemployment line dance

or play the new Jerry Spring game called Whack My Baby’s Daddy!

I listened to these words on February 17, and then the next day they came true. It was ridiculous. I’m cutting this post short. 

In a post for The Asian American Action Fund, John Delloro asks AAPI's to remember that "we as community have rode on the shoulders of African slaves and their descendants across oceans and onto the campus." He reminds us that the 1965 Immigration Act was passed largely due to the success of the Civil Rights Movement, and then he leads us towards this final geneaological connection: the very term "Asian American" was coined for the purpose of expressing solidarity with a larger Third World Movement. This is our history. John wants to know if we will honor it.

He wants to know, “Will AAPIs continue to be a minority fighting for their own selfish interests or will they join the Multiracial Majority who wants self-determination for all people? Will it be bread crumbs or a bigger pie?”

Me? I really like pie.

Click here for John's full post. 




Pie is good.